Friday, April 19, 2013

Worst contract: Alfonso Soriano or Adam Dunn?

It only took 14 games. For those of you who had April 18 in the betting pool on when Alfonso Soriano would collect his first RBI of the season, congratulations, you win.

Soriano's home run off Texas right-hander Alexi Ogando in the bottom of the third inning of Thursday's 6-2 Cubs win was the first contribution the erstwhile left fielder has made to the North Siders' cause this year.

But don't worry. I'm sure Soriano will heat up once the Cubs are 15 or 20 games out of first place. He'll get his numbers in garbage time. He always does. For his minimal contributions to the team, he will be paid a handsome salary of $18 million this year. He'll be paid that same amount next year as well.

For all you Cub fans out there, you've only got another 310 games to put up with Soriano's crap. By then, you will have done your penance.

As much as I love making fun of Soriano and his absurd contract, I can't say that contract is any worse than the one the White Sox gave Adam Dunn.

Dunn is off to yet another terrible start here in 2013. He's batting .105 with two home runs and five RBIs through the first 16 games of the season. Anyone actually think he'll get above the Mendoza Line this year? My guess is no.

The Sox just completed a miserable 3-7 road trip through Washington, Cleveland and Toronto. During those 10 games, Dunn went 1-for-33 with two walks, two RBIs and two runs scored. When you think about it, it's a miracle he managed to muster up the two RBIs and two runs scored. I was surprised to learn he struck out only 11 times in 35 plate appearances on the trip. Just watching him, it felt like more than that.

In two years plus 16 games as a member of the Sox, Dunn is batting .180 with a .683 OPS. For his career, he's batting .239 with an .865 OPS. It's pretty clear something happened to this guy as soon as he put on a Sox uniform. He has sucked ever since. I can't put my finger on it, but I do know the South Siders would be better off if Dunn were playing somewhere else.

For his horrendous play, Dunn will be paid $15 million this year. He's making $15 million next year, too, which means there is no chance Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf will allow Dunn to be released. Uncle Jerry always wants to try to get a return on his investment. That's just the way he is. 

So, my fellow Sox fans, that means we've got another 308 games of Adam Dunn before we are relieved of watching this mess. Man, I'm excited.

All I can really tell you about these two players is this: Soriano looks like a frog. Dunn looks like a donkey. And neither of these players can be traded unless their respective clubs are willing to eat all or most of those salaries.

Which contract is worse? I suspect we could have a pretty healthy debate on that topic.


  1. Soriano. His contract was twice as long and more than twice as large. And while Dunn has been the worse player, I think his sudden collapse was much less predictable than Soriano's decline. Dunn, after all, had been incredibly consistent. His low contact rate and age might have led you to suspect the Sox would get hosed on the back end of the deal, but I don't think anyone saw a historically bad year, followed by a good year, and now this.

  2. I'll add the case for Soriano's contract was that he was good at the time, and do we're the Cubs. They were in win-now mode, so they overpaid knowing their window to win wouldn't be open that long with the age of their roster. That they got swept out of the playoffs makes it seem worse in hindsight, but they had the right idea trying to grab opportunity.

    The Cubs do compound the problem by pretending like Soriano's contract prevents ten from spending money to compete in an underwhelming division. There's no reason they should look like the Pirates with a bigger overhead.

  3. I do think the media and certain Cubs fans are drinking a little too much of Theo's Kool-Aid. I understand they are rebuilding, and indeed that organization was overdue for some changes. But, they are charging Major League prices for absolute crap baseball at Wrigley. Inexcusable for a team with the Cubs' financial resources to be staring down the barrel of a second straight 100-loss season.

    Soriano's contract is obviously bad and immovable, but his presence there didn't cause this Cubs regime to waste resources on reclamation projects like Scott Baker and Ian Stewart. Should anyone be surprised those moves are blowing up in the Cubs faces? Certainly not.

    As for Dunn, I wonder how patient Robin Ventura will be. Obviously, you're not going to pull him out of the lineup after 18 games -- especially since they are already stretched thin with Viciedo on the shelf. But, if Dunn is still sucking the life out of the lineup once we get about 60 games into the season, then what do you do?

  4. Can we blame most of the Cubs struggles on Jim Hendry? Is some of this pathetic team still on him? I'm too lazy to look up any information right now but was he not the one who signed Soriano, Fukudome, Bradley, letting go of Lilly when he was still servicable, taking on Fat Silva, Zambrano signing, giving Marmol F you money, every signing with a no-trade clause... Those are just the few off the top of my head.

  5. Oh yeah, and trading the whole farm system for Matt Garza. I know a lot of those players I mentioned aren't on the team anymore, but not building the farm system is also on the previous administration.

  6. Oh yeah, I'd put most of it on Hendry. The lack of pitching depth in the Cubs organization is borderline unbelievable. That's why the Cubs bullpen is terrible, and that's why they are handing out contracts to guys like Gregg and Loe.

    They've gotten out from underneath most of the leftover bad contacts from the Hendry Era. The exceptions being Soriano and Marmol.

    I would criticize the current regime, though, for not making any impact moves to improve the big-league product whatsoever. Sure, they are not looking at this year. They are looking at 2015. But by now, you would have thought they would have added *somebody* who could not only make the team more competitive now, but still be around in 2015 when the team is ready to try to win.

    Instead, they've been adding all these spare parts. I can't believe they brought Stewart back, even on a one-year deal. Baker, Hairston, Feldman, Villaneuva, Navarro, Schierholtz, some of these guys are moderately useful. Others are complete wastes of money.

    Maybe they just don't want to overpay people, but for some reason, they overpaid Edwin Jackson. Now, I actually like Jackson. I liked him when he was with the Sox. He makes all his starts. He gives you innings. He's a nice back-of-the-rotation guy. There's just no way in hell I would have given him a four-year contract.

  7. And I'd have to vote as Soriano's contract as the worst. People said it was bad when he signed it and from day one he hasn't lived up to the money he's been paid. AND HE STILL HAS A YEAR LEFT!

    I didn't understand the Stewart signing either. I thought the Cubs gave him a chance last year to prove himself. He didn't prove anything and yet still got another contract. Is the Cubs 3B depth that terrible? I like Jackson too and maybe he's just that veteran who will plow through innings so they don't ruin young arms. 4 years seems long until you realize the Cubs will, hopefully, start being competitive by that last year or two. Hell, someone has to go out there and throw the ball over the plate. Look at what happened to Colorado last year...

  8. Soriano's contract has handcuffed them for a long time, just by the sheer length of it.

    That said, I think I might vote for Bradley's contract as the worst thing Hendry ever did. I remember the day they announced the signing. We were talking about it in the newsroom, pondering the question, "Which member of the Chicago media will Milton Bradley kill first?"

    Good ol' Milty just didn't have the temperament for Chicago. Bradley doesn't like to be questioned, and Chicago is a sports city where athletes are going to be questioned. It's a big market, and it's just the nature of the beast.

    Also, if you recall, the Cubs were at the forefront of the news at that time, moreso than they are today. They were coming off a 97-win season in 2008. That was the summer of "It's Gonna Happen." The only thing that ended up happening was another playoff disappointment.

    The perception was the Cubs lost because their right-handed dominant lineup could not handle the right-handed power pitchers they faced in that series against the Dodgers. Hendry decided he needed a left-handed bat to fix that problem. Somehow, he decided Bradley was the right man for the job. Anyone with an IQ over 15 knew that wasn't going to work out.

    Bradley predictably couldn't handle the scrutiny. The signing was a total fail, and Bradley ended up being traded for Fat Boy Silva, whose 66-inch waist probably took up half the Cubs clubhouse in the cramped quarters at Wrigley Field.

    When Hendry signed Bradley, he thought he was getting the missing piece for a World Series run. He couldn't have been more wrong. The Cubs haven't played playoff baseball since that signing.